Brenden Guy

A Celebration of Bay Area Music at UUSF


* Notes *
Clarinetist Brenden Guy presented a genial afternoon of Bay Area music at First Unitarian Universalist Church in San Francisco on Sunday. The performance began with David Conte's rather lyrical Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (1978), played by Guy and pianist Miles Graber. Valinor Winds played Nicholas Pavkovic's Eight Figments (2010), whose movements all sounded just as they were named. John Adams' China Gates were introduced and played by pianist Sarah Cahill, who brought the original score, but only used it toward the end of the piece. Before intermission came Joseph Stillwell's Quartet for Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Piano (2012). Guy, violinist Kevin Rogers, cellist Erin Wang, and pianist Aaron Pike played the piece with exuberance.

The second half of the program started with Aaron Pike's Child's Play (2011), played by Rogers, Guy, and Pike. This seemed like fun to perform. Barnaby Palmer conducted Rogers, cellist Michelle Kwon, flutist Sasha Launer, Guy, and Graber in Dan Becker's Chaos Theory-inspired S.T.I.C. (1995). This was followed by Rogers playing Nigun - No. 2 from Baal Shem Suite by Bloch, accompanied by Graber. The piece was startling in contrast with the other more recent music, but was performed beautifully. The concert ended with Conte's Sextet (1999, arranged 2011), which the composer introduced. He explained that he initially had wanted Palmer to conduct this as well, as there are 100 meter changes in this 8 minute piece. However, Conte found that the way the musicians listened to one another made a maestro unnecessary.

* Tattling *
Because the American Mavericks concert at 2pm last Sunday ran until 4:15pm, it was a challenge for me and Axel Feldheim to run to this concert. We did make it exactly at 4:30pm.

The audience was rather silent. The acoustic this space made the piano sound slightly muddy.

An Evening of English Music at St. John's

28032011 036 * Notes *
Clarinetist Brenden Guy organized an evening of English music at St. John's Church in San Francisco yesterday. The performance started with some rather cute, pastoral music from Gerald Finzi and Arnold Cooke. Guy and Yeo Jin Seol played Finzi's Five Bagetelles for clarinet and piano. Arnold Cooke's Three Songs of Innocence were sung by soprano Indre Viskontas, accompanied by clarinet (Guy) and Ian Scarfe (piano). Viskontas' diction was clear and her voice was piercing. Before intermission we heard Valinor Winds play Holst's Wind Quintet Opus 14 in A-flat major. The group seemed to enjoy playing together, which is always nice to hear.

The last two pieces on the program were less adorable but more gratifying. Guy and Keisuke Nakagoshi played Herbert Howells' Sonata for Clarinet and Piano. The first movement was smooth and without harshness, the second movement was second half more vivid. Guy conducted 10 musicians in Britten's first piece, the Sinfonietta for Chamber Orchestra (1932). There was some beautiful playing, and I particularly liked the third movement Tarantelle: Presto vivace.

* Tattling *
The audience was quiet. As I was surrounded by friends, including Axel Feldheim and SF Mike, this is perhaps not surprising. There were only some discernible sounds from the street outside. As a venue, the acoustics of St. John's are fine for chamber music, but the lighting certainly was not focused on the performers.